Analysis and Improvement of a Scaled-Up and Stacked Microbial Fuel Cell

A.J.G. Dekker, A. ter Heijne, M. Saakes, H.V.M. Hamelers, C.J.N. Buisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

137 Citations (Scopus)


Scaling up microbial fuel cells (MFCs) is inevitable when power outputs have to be obtained that can power electrical devices other than small sensors. This research has used a bipolar plate MFC stack of four cells with a total working volume of 20 L and a total membrane surface area of 2 m2. The cathode limited MFC performance due to oxygen reduction rate and cell reversal. Furthermore, residence time distribution curves showed that bending membranes resulted in flow paths through which the catholyte could flow from inlet to outlet, while leaving the reactants unconverted. The cathode was improved by decreasing the pH, purging pure oxygen, and increasing the flow rate, which resulted in a 13-fold power density increase to 144 W m-3 and a volumetric resistivity of only 1.2 mO m3 per cell. Both results are major achievements compared to results currently published for laboratory and scaled-up MFCs. When designing a scaled-up MFC, it is important to ensure optimal contact between electrodes and substrate and to minimize the distances between electrodes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9038-9042
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • oxygen reduction
  • configuration
  • performance
  • generation
  • operation
  • flow

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